Efficacy of Interferon-β in Moderate-to-Severe Hospitalised Cases of COVID-19: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Clin Drug Investig. 2021 Dec;41(12):1037-1046. doi: 10.1007/s40261-021-01092-9. Epub 2021 Oct 23.


Background and objective: Interferon-β, as with several other anti-viral agents, has been investigated as a treatment option for COVID-19 as a repurposed drug. The present study is a systematic review and meta-analysis of interferon-β to determine its efficacy among moderate-to-severe COVID-19 patients.

Methods: A systematic literature search was done using relevant terms for 'COVID-19' and 'interferon-β'. Randomised controlled trials (RCT) evaluating the efficacy of interferon-β in COVID-19 were included. Data were extracted for outcome measures, namely mortality, time to clinical improvement and length of hospital stay. Random effects meta-analysis was performed using RevMan V.5.4.1 to calculate overall effect estimate as odds ratio/hazard ratio for categorical variables and mean difference for continuous variable.

Result: Eight RCTs were eligible for qualitative synthesis and seven for meta-analysis. The overall effect estimate (odds ratio [OR] 0.59; 95 % CI 0.91, 1.12) and (mean difference [MD] - 1.41; 95 % CI - 2.84, 0.02) indicated no statistically significant difference between effect of IFN-β and that of control on mortality and length of hospital stay, respectively. However, the overall effect estimate (hazard ratio [HR] 1.95; 95 % CI 1.36, 2.79) denoted a favourable effect of INF-β on reducing the time to clinical improvement in moderate-to-severe COVID-19 patients.

Conclusion: Addition of interferon-β to standard of care resulted in significant reduction in time to clinical improvement but no significant benefit in terms of reduction in mortality and length of hospital stay in moderate-to-severe cases of COVID-19.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-beta / therapeutic use
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interferon-beta